An Incomplete Guide to Regional Indian Cookbooks, Part 2

Back in late November I’d posted an annotated list of regional Indian cookbooks available in English. This post was quite widely read, having been shared by a large number of people online. In the wake of that post friends and others wrote in to suggest other regional cookbooks that I had either missed/forgotten the first time around or that I had not known about then. I’d originally thought I’d post this second list in December but as anyone who actually follows my blog knows, I am very bad at follow-ups—some people are still waiting for the annotated list of 1960s Bombay films I’d promised back in September.  Even with these additions this remains an incomplete list and I hope to receive even more suggestions and recommendations. If you’ve made some in the past and don’t see those reflected in this second list, please don’t be offended. This is a list that I have to vouch for and so for books that I don’t actually have on my own shelves I am only comfortable listing those recommended to me by people I can also vouch for. But please know that I will do my best to track down your suggestions for myself and they may yet appear in further entries in this series. Continue reading

A Love Letter to Favorite Recipes of Rice County Extension Homemakers 1965 (Volume IV)

A week ago, Sunday our friends Daniel and Emily dropped off a plate of cookies at our door. Like many others, they’ve apparently been baking a lot during the pandemic. There were some Moravian wafers on the plate and some Swedish almond rusks. I enjoyed one of each greatly with my evening tea, especially the rusk. I Whatsapped Daniel later with compliments and learned that the Moravian wafers were out of a Maida Heatter book but that the rusks were from something called Favorite Recipes of Rice County Extension Homemakers 1965 (Volume IV). This, he said, was a book they’d literally found on the street and that it was a trip. He sent me some pictures. I asked if either or both of them might be interested in writing up a review or appreciation of it for the blog at some point. Emily would, he said. And a few emails and a scarily short amount of time later this wonderful essay landed in my inbox. Continue reading

A Fond Look Back at the Futura Cookbook ~ Prachi Deshpande

Two weeks ago I posted an annotated list of regional Indian cookbooks that seems to have struck quite a chord with a lot of cooks of Indian food online. Indeed, based on the feedback I received on that post I will soon have a sequel to that list (perhaps as soon as next weekend). That first list, as I noted in that post, was put together with the assistance of three good friends who I got to know on the Another Subcontinent food forums more than 15 years ago (!): Anjali, Aparna and Prachi. In our conversation about regional cookbooks a couple of books came up that didn’t quite fit that list as I’d envisioned it but which I filed away mentally to ask them to consider writing guest posts on later (Aparna has already written a wonderful post on reading Agatha Christie during lockdown in Delhi, which I highly recommend you read if you haven’t already—or read again if you haven’t read it recently). One of them was the Hawkins Futura Cookbook, which Prachi mentioned she’d cooked from more than any of the more formal cookbooks she owns. I’d thought I’d have to work on her for months but to my great surprise she agreed readily to write a short piece on it. And so I am pleased to announce that after being awarded the Infosys Prize for the Humanities earlier this week her first publication—very mildly peer-reviewed—is for this blog and is on a pressure cooker cookbook. I expect it will go on her cv. Continue reading

Regional Indian Cookbooks, An Incomplete Guide

Earlier this week I enjoyed reading Bettina Makalintal’s piece for Munchies on American food media’s tendency to flatten and collapse heterogeneous culinary traditions into national ones. Late in the piece the owner of a culinary bookstore, Ken Concepcion, is quoted as follows: “I’m sure there are amazing regional books about Chinese food, about China, or regional Pakistani books, but they’re not written in English”. On Twitter I noted that in the case of Indian cuisines, at least, a number of excellent regional cookbooks exist, many written in English, others translated into it. The problem, I noted, is that American food media has no interest—for the most part—in these books. Then I thought that I should put my money where my mouth is and actually list some of these books for interested parties. Global ecommerce means we aren’t limited to what American publishers choose to put out: most of the books that follow are easily available online for less than you would pay for some overpriced restaurant or cooking show host’s cookbook that you will never actually cook anything from. You’re welcome. Continue reading